Osteria Morini

Last week, yours truly and yours truly's co-blogger had a molto romantico dinner at Osteria Morini in NoHo.  You will frequently find me enthusiastic about Italian restaurants (Otto, Tommaso, Giacomo, etc.) because Italian food is just so gosh darn delizioso (okay, I'll stop), but Osteria Morini is on a whole different level.  Yes, it's a little bit more expensive than the standard Italian fare, and it is probably very crowded on the weekends, but so worth it.

We were seated in a nice quiet corner in the back, between one couple who could have been Chinese dignitaries and another couple who could have been Italian celebrities from the way the waitstaff came to ask them repeatedly how they were finding everything.  Meanwhile, we splurged on a meat and cheese plate (speck, bresaola, felino salami, pecorino, and squacquerone) and buttered spinach.  I had the Garganelli pasta dish and Alex had the Grigliata Mista di Carni.

The meat and cheese plate makes me salivate even thinking about it: it was that good.  A huge cutting board was piled high with ribbons of almost-salmon-colored speck (smoked prosciutto), dark dark dark pink bresaola (cured beef), and speckled salami.  A small slice of pecorino sat next to a ramekin of the creamiest soft cow's milk cheese that was the squacquerone.  The highlight of possibly the whole meal was the crostini that came with the meat and cheese plate.  Alex took a bite into one first and his eyes lit up.  "You're gonna like this," he told me.  Boy, did I!  Our server explained that these savory, buttery, crunchy crostini chips were nothing more than slices of bread crisped up in a panini press.  It really transformed regular ol' bread into a heavenly vessel that brought different bits of salty, meaty, creamy goodness to my mouth.

Then, I had a little bowl of garganelli pasta (quill-shaped, like very small penne) in a truffle butter sauce with prosciutto and radicchio.  It tasted almost like a pasta carbonara but truffle-ier.  I loved the way the creamy sauce coated each pasta.  It was very savory and hearty without being too heavy.  Alex's mixed grilled meat platter was stupendous.  There were many cuts of meat with dark char marks.  Everything was delicious, tender, and salty-meaty-goodness.  I endeavor to return to try all their wonderful pastas and more combinations of the meat and cheese plate.